Philip Glass Ensemble

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The Philip Glass Ensemble is a musical group founded by composer Philip Glass in 1968 to serve as a performance outlet for his experimental minimalist music. The Ensemble's instrumentation became a hallmark of Glass' early minimalist style. After Glass wrote his first opera, Einstein on the Beach, for the Ensemble in 1976, he began to compose for other instrumentation more frequently, but he still retains the core ensemble instrumentation.

While the Ensemble's exact instrumentation has varied over the years, it has generally consisted of amplified woodwinds (typically saxophones, flutes, and bass clarinet) keyboard synthesizers, and solo soprano voice (singing solfege). The Philip Glass Ensemble continues to perform and record, under the musical direction of keyboardist Michael Riesman.

In 2011 individuals from the ensemble performed a series of concerts in an installation at the Museum of Modern Art. The group continues to perform around the world and will continue to present Mr. Glass' works. From 2012 until early 2014 the ensemble presented, along with many other talented performers, a revival of Einstein on the Beach in Montpellier, London, Reggio Emilia, Toronto, Brooklyn, and various other cities.

In 2013 the ensemble began to perform Mr. Glass' opera, "La Belle et Le Bête" again. The opera is set to the stunning visuals of the 1946 Jean Cocteau film, and with the help of four fabulous vocalists the ensemble will present this gem worldwide. In early September of 2014 the ensemble is performing with Steve Reich and Musicians at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's "Next Wave Festival." It has been over thirty years since Glass and Reich have shared a stage.


  • Michael Riesman, keyboards
  • Philip Glass, keyboards
  • Jon Gibson, woodwinds
  • Dan Dryden, audio engineer
  • Eleanor Sandresky, keyboards
  • Nelson Padgett, keyboards
  • Ted Baker, keyboards
  • Lisa Bielawa, voice
  • Andrew Sterman, woodwinds
  • Mick Rossi, percussion, keyboards
  • Frank Cassara, percussion
  • David Crowell, woodwinds
  • Dan Bora, audio engineer

Featured Vocalists in "La Belle et Le Bête":

  • Gregory Purnhagen, baritone
  • Peter Stewart, bass
  • Marie Mascari, soprano
  • Hai-Ting Chin, mezzo-soprano
  • Alexandra Montano, mezzo-soprano (deceased)
  • Janice Felty, mezzo-soprano (still active in the opera world)
  • Anna-Maria Martinez, soprano (still active in the opera world)

Former Ensemble Members:

  • Stephen Erb, audio engineer (resigned)
  • Martin Goldray, keyboards (retired)
  • Richard Peck, woodwinds (retired)
  • Jack Kripl, woodwinds (retired)
  • Richard Landry, woodwinds (retired)
  • Joan La Barbara, voice (retired)
  • Iris Hiskey, voice (retired)
  • Dora Ohrenstein, voice (retired)
  • Kurt Munkacsi, audio engineer (now producer)